Former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella have founded a new studio dubbed Respawn Entertainment, with EA signed on as the exclusive global publisher. This news hot on the heels of Activision’s counter-suit against the pair, alleging that they were plotting to “steal” Infinity Ward. For now, Respawn Entertainment only has the two employees but they are in hiring mode. It’ll be interesting to see how many resumes they get from Infinity Ward.
Above: West and Zampella, with their new publisher's logo
A key facet of the dispute with Activision is the ownership of intellectual property developed by Infinity Ward, specifically: who owns the rights to the Modern Warfare brand. West and Zampella’s new deal with EA preemptively addresses this issue by ensuring that IP rights stay with the developers. "Now that the team is in control of the games and brands, we can ensure that the fans are treated as well as they deserve," said Respawn’s newly-minted President Jason West in the official press release. There’s no word yet as to what Respawn’s first game will be, but expectations are already high.
It would seem Activision has adopted EA’s old practice of buying up developers and running their franchises into the ground. And EA has become the safe haven for Activision’s victims, providing financial support and creative freedom to some of the biggest names in gaming. It’s a great bit of publicity for EA’s Partners program, which is winning over marquee developers with its supportive but hands-off approach. After so many years of EA-hating, it’s ironically satisfying to see them cast as the “good guys” against the Activison juggernaut.